Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for KNARESBOROUGH

KNARESBOROUGH, a town, a township, a parish, a sub-district, and a district, in W. R. Yorkshire. The town stands on the side of a rocky hill, on the left bank of the river Nidd, about 1½ mile from the junction of the Leeds and Thirsk railway with the railway thence to York, 2 ½ miles ENE of Harrogate, and 16¾ W by N of York. It is a picturesque place, both in itself and in its environs; " it may boldly challenge any town in Yorkshire, except Richmond, to match its river, rocks, wood, castles, and houses piled up the sides of the cliff; '' and it commands rich and beautifully diversified views, over a large tract of fine country, to York Minster, the Wolds, Garrowby Hill, the Hambleton Hills, and the Brimham rocks and moors. A tract around it, chiefly westward, and measuring about 20 miles by 8, was anciently covered with wood, and known as Knaresborough forest. The ancient Britons probably had a settlement on the town's site; and the Romans certainly had some station or outpost here; for Roman coins and other Roman relics have been found. A rampart and a deep fosse appear to have been around the place from an early period, and are still traceable; and these may have been formed either by the ancient Britons or by the Romans. A crown manor lay connected with it in the Saxon times; and this was severely devastated by the Conqueror in 1070, and afterwards given by him to Serlo de Burgh, Baron of Tonsburg in Normandy.

A strong and large castle was built by De Burgh,on a commanding eminence near the Nidd, at the SW side of the town; passed, with the manor, to the Estotevilles, Richard Plantagenet, Piers Gavestone, John of Gaunt, and the Duchy of Lancaster; was the retreat, for about a year, of the murderers of Thomas à Becket; was also, for some time, the prison of the dethroned Richard II.; made a stand in the civil war, for Charles I.; was taken by Fairfax in 1644: and was dismantled, by order of parliament, in 1646. It occupied an area of nearly 2½ acres, and was flanked by eleven towers; but it is now reduced to inconsiderable ruins, in several detached portions, many of them mere shapeless masses. The principal tower still stands; appears to have been built, or at least restored, about the time of Edward III.; is supposed, by some antiquaries, to have a Saxon base and some Norman superstructure; consists of a dungeon below ground, and three stories above; contains, in the second story, what was called the King's chamber, probably from being Richard II. 's place of confinement; and had, in that story, a rich traceried window, 15 feet by 10, which was destroyed by lightning in 1806. Remains of a gate way, in early English, are on the SE side; and some meagre ruins of a chapel, probably Norman, were discovered in 1786.

A priory was founded, about ½ a mile down the river from the castle, in the 13th century, by Robert Flower, a famous monk from Morpeth abbey; was rebuilt and endowed, in the time of Henry III., by Richard Plantagenet; was given, at the dissolution, to Francis, Earl of Shrewsbury; and the site of it is now occupied by a modern mansion, called the Abbey House. St. Robert's chapel, southward of the castle, and sculptured out of the solid rock, is aScribed to the same monk who founded the priory; measnres 10½ feet in length, 9 feet in width, and 7½ feet in height; shows, on one side of the entrance, an uncouth figure of a knight templar, cut in the rock; and has a roof and an altar neatly adorned with Gothic ornaments. A hermitage, made of petrifactions and other curiosities, is above St. Robert's chapel; an ornamental excavation, called Fort Montague, a modern work of two men for sixteen years, is still further up; several ancient excavations in the rock, the principal one of which bears the name of Rock House, are near the chapel; and a hermitage, called St. Robert's cave, said to have been the usual residence of the famous monk, but more memorable as the scene of the murder of Daniel Clarke in 1745 by Eugene Aram, detailed in Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton's well known novel, is about a mile further down the river.

Fine views, both near and distant, with rich variety of foreground and combination, are obtained from the castle, Fort Montague, and numerous other spots on the flanks of the valley. Several walks also are charming, and possess many features of interest; but most of all the Long Walk, on the right bank of the river. The Dropping Well here is a particular attraction. This is a spring rising from a limestone rock, discharging about 20 gallons per minute, dispersing itself over the rock's top, and sending down thence many little trickling rills. The water is strongly impregnated with lime, and plentifnlly deposits this, in a petrifying manner, on substances immersed in it or overflown by it. The rock is finely decked with foliage and flowers; and articles which have been petrified by the water are sold on the spot. Mother Shipton, the Yorkshire sybil, is traditionally said to have been born at the foot of this rock. A spring, called the Knaresborough spa, is at Starbeck, about midway between Knaresborough and Harrogate; possesses sulphureous and chalybeate properties, materially different from those of the Harrogate spas; and has an establishment with baths, waiting rooms, and all requisite appliances for the comfort of visitors.

The town is well built; consists chiefly of stone houses; presents a pleasing appearance; includes a spacious market place; and recently was much improved by flagging the foot paths and by drainage. Two bridges, called the High and the Low, span the Nidd; and they were repaired and enlarged, the former in 1773, the latter in 1779. A market cross formerly stood near the end of High street, but has been removed. The courthouse, in Castle gate, was built in 1838; is a large stone structure; and contains apartments for court business, and four cells for prisoners. The literary institution, in Market place, dates from 1843, and contains a well supplied reading room, and a well selected library. St. John's church is a spacious building, the most prominent in the town; comprises nave, aisles, transept, chancel, and two mortuary chapels, with central tower and small spire; is mainly later English, but partly early English and decorated; underwent important alterations and improvements in 1861; and contains several ancient and interesting monuments of the Slingsbys. Holy Trinity church was built principally in 1856, but not completed till 1864; is in the decorated English style, with tower and spire; has a memorial window to the late Prince Consort; and contains 800 sittings. The Independent chapel was built in 1865, at a cost of £2, 000; is cruciform, in the decorated English style, with tower and slender spire 90 feet high; and contains 420 sittings. There are chapels also for Wes1eyans, Primitive Methodists, and Roman Catholics. The grammar school was founded in 1617, and has £20 a year from endowment. Richardson's free school, for boys and girls, was established in 1765; and has £102 a year from endowment. The national school, in Castle yard, for boys, was built in 1814, at a cost of £1, 200; and a public school for girls and infants was built in 1837. The dispensary, in Castle yard, was erected in 1853, as a memorial to the late vicar, the Rev. A. Cheap; and is supported partly by endowment, and partly by subscription.

The town has a head post office, ‡ a railway station with telegraph, two banking offices, and three chief inns; is a seat of petty sessions and county courts, and a pollingplace; and publishes two weekly newspapers. A weekly market, for corn and provisions, is held on Wednesday; a cattle market is held on every alternate Wednesday; and fairs are held on the Wednesdays after 13 Jan., 12 March, 5 May, 11 Oct., and 10 Dec. A considerable manufacture is carried on in hearth rugs, door mats, and similar articles; and a large manufactory was formerly carried on in linens, chiefly sheetings, towellings, huckaback, and diapers, but has greatly declined. The town is not incorporated, but is governed by a bailiff, and has a local commission for its police and its sanitary regulations; yet it has sent two members to parliament since the year 1553. Its borough boundaries were very much extended by the reform act; and they now include about seven tenths of a square mile, containing most of the houses in both the township of Knaresborough and that of Scriven-with-Tentergate. Electors in 1863, 265. Amount of property and income tax in 1863, £1, 358. Pop. in 1851, 5, 536: in 1861, 5, 402. Houses, 1, 318. Pop. of the part in K. township, 4, 255; of the part in S. T. township, 1, 147.

The township comprises 2, 838 acres. Real property, £16, 272; of which £150 are in quarries. Pop., 4,848. Houses, 1,062.—The parish contains also the township of Scriven-with-Tentergate, the t. of Brearton, the t. of Bilton-with-Harrogate, and part of the t. of Arkendale. Acres, 12, 418. Real property, exclusive of the part of Arkendale, £53, 627; of which £290 are in gas worksPop. of the whole, in 1851, 10, 170; in 1861, 11, 277. Houses, 2, 511. The increase of pop., to the extent of counterbalancing decrease elsewhere, was nearly all in Harrogate. The manor is held, from the duchy of Lancaster, by the Duke of Devonshire. Numerous mansions and villas are in the rural tract; and great embellishment is within Bilton-with-Harrogate. The rocks include magnesian limestone and a bed of strontian. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Ripon. Value, £393.* Patron, the Bishop of Ripon. The pcuracies of Bilton, High Harrogate, Arkendale, Trinity Church and Brearton, are separate benefices; and there are a chapel of ease and a school in Brearton. John Metcalf, a man of much talent and enterprise, commonly called Blind Jack of Knaresborough, who lost his sight when four years old, and died in 1810 at the age of 90, was a native of the town.

The sub-district contains the K., the S. with-T., and B. townships of Knaresborough parish; the Goldsborough and Flaxby townships of Goldsborough parish; the Plompton township of Spofforth parish; the Farnham, Scotton, and Ferrensby townships of Farnham parish; and the entire parishes of Nidd, Burton-Leonard, South Stainley-with-Cayton, and Walkingham-Hill-withOckanay. Acres, 18, 297. Pop., 8, 571. Houses, 2, 007. -The district, as now constituted, comprehends also the sub-district of Harrogate, containing the K. township of Bilton-with-Harrogate; the Ripley townships of Ripley and Killinghall; the Hampsthwaite townships of Hampsthwaite and Felliscliffe; the Spofforth township of Follifoot; and the entire parishes of Haverah-Park and Pannal. Acres of the district, 39, 942. Poor rates in 1863, £7, 284. Pop. in 1851, 15, 473; in 1861, 17, 176. Houses, 3, 739. Marriages in 1863, 143; births, 547, -of which 50 were illegitimate; deaths, 386, -of which 124 were at ages under 5 years, and 10 at ages above 85. The workhouse is in Knaresborough township; and, at the census of 1861, had 74 inmates.-The district, as formerly constituted, and as repeatedly named by us elsewhere in stating the location of parishes, included in its K. subdistrict, the township of Arkendale; excluded, from that sub-district, the townships of Goldsborough and Flaxby, and the parishes of Burton-Leonard and South Stainleywith-Cayton; included, in its Harrogate sub-district, the townships of Clint, Birstwith, and Kirkby-Overblowwith-Swinden; excluded, from that sub-district, the parish of Haverah Park; and comprehended the subdistrict of Boroughbridge, containing the Aldborough townships of Boroughbridge, Aldborough, Roecliffe, Minskip, Ellenthorpe, Lower Dunsforth, and Upper Dunsforth-with-Branton-Green; and the parishes of Stavely. Copgrove, and Martin-cum-Grafton;-the sub-district of Whixley, containing the parishes of Whixley, Great Ouseburn, Little Ouseburn, and Nun-Monkton, and the townships of Kirk-Hammerton, Cattal, and AllertonMauleverer-with-Hopperton in other parishes;-and the sub-district of Wetherby, containing the parishes of Kirk-Deighton and Cowthorp, the Kirkby-Overblow townships of Sicklinghall and Kearby-with-Netherby, the Hunsingore townships of Hunsingore and Great Ribstonwith-Walshford, and the Spofforth townships of Wetherby, Linton, Little Ribston, and Spofforth-with-Stockeld. Acres of the old district, 86, 717. Pop. in 1851, 27,783. Houses, 6,007. The places of worship, in 1851, were 36 of the Church of England, with 10, 444 sittings; 7 of Independents, with 1, 547 s.; 1 of Baptists, with 120 s.; 37 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 5, 110 s.; 8 of Primitive Methodists, with 913 s.; 2 of Wesleyan Reformers, with 300 s.; 1 of Latter Day Saints, with 100 s.; and 3 of Roman Catholics, with 750 s-The schools were 47 public day schools, with 3, 041 scholars; 64 private day schools, with 1, 522 s.; 59 Sunday schools, with 3, 973 s.; and 4 evening schools for adults, with 43 s.-Large portions of the old district of K., together with some adjoining parishes and townships, have been formed into the new districts of Kirk-Deighton, Great Ouseburn, and Wetherby. The Kirk-Deighton district originally contained Hunsingore parish, Kirk-Deighton township, the Whixley township of Thornville, and the KirkbyOverblow hamlet of Swinden; but, in 1863, the Swinden hamlet was transferred to the Wetherby district; and the K. D. district is part of the poor law union of Barwick-in-Elmet. Acres, 6, 941. Poor-rates in 1863, £435. Pop. in 1851, 1, 012; in 1861, 987. Houses, 205. Marriages in 1863, 6; births, 28, -all legitimate; deaths, 19, -of which 10 were at ages under 5 years, and none at an age above 85. The Great Ouseburn and Wetherby districts will be noticed in their own alphabetical place.


(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a town, a township, a parish, a sub-district, and a district"   (ADL Feature Type: "cities")
Administrative units: Knaresborough CP/AP       Knaresborough SubD       Knaresborough PLU/RegD       Yorkshire AncC
Place: Knaresborough

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